Change is Inevitable

  • December 01, 2018
  • Margaret A. Mereigh

Best wishes to Caroline Nevin, a leader and an educator

In this article, I take great pride in acknowledging the iconic leadership of CBABC Executive Director, Caroline Nevin. For over two decades, Caroline has been an important part of the BC Branch, especially as Executive Director for the past 11 years.

She is a thought leader and a thoughtful person who builds strong relationships in the justice system. Often times, she seems to know those of us who make up the CBABC better than we know ourselves.

Caroline is soon leaving us – in January, she’ll transition to her new role as CEO of Courthouse Libraries BC. Luckily, we will all still feel her positive influence as she continues to promote access to justice through public legal education.

A recent example of Caroline’s thought leadership occurred this past September as the legal community attempted to address the growing unmet needs of the public for legal services. The Law Society of BC (“LSBC”) announced it was seeking feedback from the profession on whether to ask government for a legislative amendment to the Legal Professions Act to allow LSBC to credential and to regulate new categories of non-lawyer legal service providers known as Alternate Legal Service Providers.

In response to this call for input, Caroline astutely asked, “What is the role of the CBABC? As an association, do we best serve our members by defending the status quo on their behalf? Or does the CBABC have an obligation to support lawyers in preparing for and adapting to the inevitable changes to come to the practice of law?”

With her question, Caroline referenced a Forbes article entitled, “Is the American Bar Association Passé?” It criticizes the American Bar Association’s inability to reconcile the competing interests of (a) the practice of law and the business of law; (b) the profession and the industry; (c) the misaligned interests of traditional law firm partnerships and consumers; (d) legal representation and affordable legal services; and (e) self-regulation that serves lawyers, not legal consumers and society. The article also recognizes that the legal profession alongside other industries is challenged by disruption from globalization and advancing technologies in artificial intelligence and machine learning along with other factors.

The Forbes article and the LSBC announcement sparked Caroline’s idea to organize a panel for our September 29, 2018 Provincial Council meeting. The panel, Our Changing Profession: Challenges and Opportunities, featured Paula Littlewood (Executive Director of the Washington State Bar Association) and Steve Crossland (Chair of the Limited Licence Legal Technician Board). Both spoke on their four-year experience of training and licencing paralegals in the practice of law.

Click here to view their PowerPoint presentation and click here to view our video of their presentation.

The Washington State speakers had three messages:

  1. The regulator must expand the framework of legal service providers beyond lawyers. Otherwise,
    self-regulation of the legal profession will be eliminated by government or the courts to expand the field of legal service providers to address the public’s unmet need for legal services. This was the outcome for Australia, England and Wales.
  2. The regulator must educate and consult fully with lawyers about alternative legal service providers.
  3. The regulator should ensure that alternative legal service providers will provide service for members of the public who cannot access lawyers.

My intention in sharing with you this story about Caroline Nevin is this: it is but one example of many conversations with Caroline that have started with her hand on your arm and an encouraging tone, where Caroline says, “I’m just putting it out there, but have you thought of....”

In her collaborative style she has seeded ideas that encouraged many of us to see the future, and ourselves, a little differently. That is Caroline Nevin’s magic. She has brought great value to the justice system and I have no doubt that will continue as she focuses on public legal education in the next phase of her career. I value her and I will miss her.

 

 

 


Margaret A. Mereigh
president@cbabc.org